Timeless Tradition a Sign of the Season across Church of God
By Carl Stagner
1949. That’s the year the first Church of God movement-wide unity experience known as Christ’s Birthday Observance took place. Nearly three-fourths of a century later, Church of God congregations continue to celebrate Advent with helpful resources and international ministry opportunities made possible by Christian Women Connection. Whether through devotional readings to accompany weekly candlelighting leading up to Christmas, sermon starters to inspire fresh messages for the season, videos to prompt kingdom awareness and stewardship, or a variety of other materials to engage the local church in the larger work of the Lord, this timeless tradition has certainly become a sign of the season across the Church of God.
As one of the longest continuous traditions in the Church of God, congregations in the United States and Canada, in particular, have come to anticipate Christ’s Birthday Observance. For four weeks leading up to Christmas, the lighting of the Advent candle and the associated readings provided by CWC have sparked wonder and worship during an otherwise busy and materialistic experience. Throughout Advent, and often throughout the year, Christ’s Birthday Observance has prompted individuals to save money—often at significant sacrifice—to be given generously in the largest single offering in the Church of God on the Sunday immediately before Christmas. No other offering touches the length and breadth of the Church of God movement like this one; Christ’s Birthday Observance offering annually yields a real, lasting effect on the kingdom.
To help the Movement accomplish the goal, CWC has offered an incredibly wide variety of brand-new resources available for free download. Scores of pastors have found sermon starters to be useful for weekly sermon prep; this year’s sermon starters were written by Pastor Geremy Dixon of Center of Hope LA, the General Assembly chair-elect. Many in the Movement became familiar with the writer of this year’s Advent readings: Pastor Meagan Flores and her husband Leo helped lead worship at Convention 2023 in Tampa, Florida.
Also available for download are supporting media and video testimonials.
“As we step into Christ’s Birthday Observance for 2023,” the CWC website explains, “we want to encourage you and your groups to pray over the text for the 2023 CBO theme. ‘Love Gives’ is more than just a theme or title; it is a way for us as God’s children to step into the Advent season with generous hearts and open minds. Let us look for opportunities this holiday season to share God’s love by giving to those in need and showing compassion to the least of these. This Christmas, our hope is to unite as brothers and sisters in Christ to show the world how God gave his Son to show us what love is.”
Learn more about Christ’s Birthday Observance, and access free resources for the Christmas season, at christianwomenconnection.org/cbo-2023-materials.